By Superintendent Addison Davis
As the first academic semester draws to a close, we must all reflect on the heroic work of our educators, support staff and school leaders as our community continues to navigate through a global health emergency. While we approach a new calendar year, Hillsborough County Public Schools will strengthen our resolve to ensure all learners are provided unrivaled educational opportunities.
In order to offer premier instructional experiences throughout our district, we will continue to educate lawmakers in Tallahassee about our unique needs as the seventh largest school district in the nation. The district’s legislative priorities align with our vision to make certain all students graduate with the tools necessary to become successful both professionally and emotionally.
I want to publicly thank the Hillsborough legislative delegation for their support and continued advocacy for the students and families in our district. The cornerstone of the school board’s 2022 legislative priorities will be focusing on an increase in the funding that school districts receive to provide the proper educational and emotional supports to our learners. Currently, Florida is ranked 43rd in the nation in per-pupil funding. It has perhaps never been more evident how critical these dollars are to the academic, social and emotional well-being of our youth as we grasp the impacts of a worldwide pandemic.
We will also lobby legislators to overhaul the 1973 Hazardous Walking Conditions law, which has not seen a change in the past 40 years. As we experience unprecedented growth in south county, you have undoubtedly seen an increase in traffic and crashes throughout the region. We will ask the state to revisit and study what constitutes unsafe conditions for our learners so we can better meet the needs of our community while keeping students safe on the way to school.
Finally, we will be pushing lawmakers to allow our district to transition to a year-round funding model for Hillsborough Virtual K-12 to mirror that of Florida Virtual School. Currently, our district can only receive FTE funding for part-time students over the summer, which limits flexibility for our learners who aspire to choose our district’s virtual school and withholds much-needed FTE money from our district.
Although these important topics are not the totality of our legislative priorities, I hope this provides added insight into our shared goals as we refocus on Accelerating Hillsborough for all learners. I encourage you to contact your local legislators to encourage them to support our legislative priorities which, if passed, will have enormous impacts on our community, and more importantly our students, for decades to come.